Members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party national council went into a meeting on the afternoon of July 26 to decide what to do with the exploratory mandate to seek to form a government that it currently holds.
The national council reportedly was being presented with two choices – to return the mandate unfulfilled or to persist in its efforts, the latter in effect a bid to provide time for key votes in Parliament.
Including among top members of the BSP, there was a predominant view that chances of getting the current Parliament to vote in a government and stave off early elections were close to zero. In effect, that it was not a matter of whether Bulgaria will hold early elections later this year, but precisely when.
It was the July 22 announcement by ITN leader Slavi Trifonov that he was withdrawing his party from talks on forming a government that sharply increased the prospect of early parliamentary elections. Any lingering hope of a majority to elect a government would ride on sufficient MPs breaking ranks with Trifonov to make up the numbers required for a parliamentary vote to elect a government.
An option being discussed for the way forward was for the BSP to test the waters in Parliament by asking for a vote in favour of the ruling coalition’s proposed governance programme. Should such a vote succeed, the BSP would proceed to the step of naming a Prime Minister-designate, ahead of presenting a proposed Cabinet.
The BSP was considering its delegation meeting President Roumen Radev on July 29, either to formally notify him it was giving up on forming a government, or to present him with a proposal for We Continue the Change (WCC) co-leader Assen Vassilev to be candidate Prime Minister.
Also reportedly being discussed was a scenario of holding on to the mandate long enough to fill the vacant post of Speaker of the National Assembly, by July 31, and to seek to get Boiko Rashkov – Interior Minister in the outgoing government – elected as head of a revamped anti-corruption commission.
The BSP is due to meet its partners in the attempt to form a government – WCC and Democratic Bulgaria – on July 27 to discuss the decision it is due to make on Tuesday.
Should the BSP formally abandon its attempts and hand the mandate back to Radev, it will be up to the head of state to decide on a date to dissolve Parliament, appoint a caretaker government and decree a date for early parliamentary elections.
Articles 99 and 64 of the constitution provide that elections for a new National Assembly must be held within two months from the expiry of the term of the previous one.
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